DOJ Proclaims Plan For Coordinated Civil Rights Response To COVID-19 – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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On April 2, 2021, Pamela S. Karlan, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Department of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), made a public statement regarding the department’s intention to lead a coordinated response to civil rights pandemic coronavirus (COVID -19). The statement, which is accompanied by a resource guide, is designed to assist federal agencies, state and local governments, and federal funding recipients, including health care providers, in addressing the ongoing civil rights issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The statement informed health care providers and long-term care facilities (LTCs), among others, that the DOJ intended to “vigorously enforce federal civil rights,” and that civil rights obligations would continue to apply in emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The declaration addressed the need to combat discrimination based on disability by ensuring that all people with disabilities have equal access to health care. The statement cited against the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) and the need for health care providers to comply with those laws “when deciding who should receive medical care, including vaccines and hospital beds.” . “The statement also discussed the need for providers to adhere to disability laws when drafting and implementing policies such as crisis standards for care, visiting rules and vaccine distribution plans.

The statement highlighted the increased risk that COVID-19 poses for LTCs, including the increased risk of infection and death and the need for LTCs to prevent unnecessary institutionalization. The DOJ stressed that with the COVID-19 restrictions lifted and the world reopened, healthcare providers are expected to continue to provide “reasonable accommodation and changes, physical access and effective communication” under ADA and Section 504.

The DOJ’s statement also detailed that organizations should comply with non-discrimination laws by collecting data to monitor, track and ensure care for populations affected by long-standing disparities that continued to manifest during the COVID-19 pandemic, including Black, Indigenous, Latino, AAPI and other colored people as well as people with disabilities. The statement included a reminder that federal civil rights offices are legally entitled to use both qualitative and quantitative data to ensure that various institutions are complying with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and that “[c]Complete, consistent and accurate data collection and reporting on race, ethnicity, disability and limited English language skills are essential [their] Ability to recognize and address differences and inequalities. “

The DOJ’s interest in whether people of color and disabilities are adequately cared for and treated fairly by health care providers signals that the government will focus on whether these providers meet legal requirements for collecting data on race, ethnicity and language ( REaL). To comply with these requirements, as well as state and state non-discrimination laws, healthcare providers and long-term care companies should ensure that they use best practice in collecting patient data and, where practicable, review that data for evidence of racial and ethnic discrimination and monitor differences in the Quality of care. In addition, providers should keep a record of their policies and training and monitoring activities related to the management and outcomes of individual patient care.

Originally published April 6, 2021

The content of this article is intended to provide general guidance on the subject. A professional should be obtained about your particular circumstances.

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